Co-operative universities mailing list

If you are interested in discussing, researching, keeping up-to-date and even creating a co-operative university, there is a mailing list you can join.

The list was first set up by a group of people who attended the Co-operative Education Against the Crises conference earlier in the year. More recently, Dan Cook published a report and the Institute of Education hosted a seminar on ‘co-operative universities’.

Please join the mailing list and introduce yourself. A number of SSC scholars are involved.

The mailing list is hosted by Mayfirst/People Link, a politically progressive member-run collective of technologists.

Recent activities

Hi all,

I have been doing some work over the summer with the SSC. To help keep people up-to-date I thought it would be a good idea to write a regular SSC blog that documents my activities. My first post will provide a summary of my work so far – I will then write on a more regular basis to keep people aware of all of the exciting things that are happening at the SSC.

French Visitors: 16th -17th September 2013

In the middle of September 2013 we were visited by Laila Le Guen and Magali Marc. Laila and Magali are currently in the process of setting up their own free, alternative education project in Paris, Coopérative volante des savoirs, or, the Flying Co-operative of Knowledge. During our stay with us, Laila and Magali met some of the members of the SSC, attended our first public seminar series, Reading the Pussy Riot Act, delivered by Ed Bacon of Birkbeck, University of London, and attended an informal meal with members of the SSC. Laila and Magali also visited the Free University of Brighton, People’s Political Economy in Oxford and the London Free School.

It was flattering to receive interest and receive visitors from Paris, France. Laila and Magali found out about the SSC on the internet and had been inspired the work we do at the Centre. It was great to meet them and share ideas about education and supporting local communities. We wish them the best of luck and hope to see them again in the future – hopefully in Paris.

First Public Seminar, Ed Bacon and Reading the Pussy Riot Act: 17th September

We held our first public seminar and, despite not being as well attended as we would have liked, it was nice to see some new faces there. Despite not having a projector, Ed managed to facilitate an interesting and lively discussion about Pussy Riot, freedom of speech, freedom of expression and Russian politics and theology. The group were passionate about the topic and there were some highly charged debates throughout the seminar.

We would like to thank Ed for facilitating an excellent session and those who attended for participating and making it a fascinating public seminar.

Working with Local Organisations: August and September 2013

Despite being quite well known nationally and even internationally, the SSC is relatively unknown locally. To address this I have been meeting with local voluntary organisations in an attempt to work much more closely with them. We hope that by doing this we will be able raise our profile in the local community and provide higher education that matches the needs of the local community. Moreover, we hope that members of the SSC will also work more closely with these local organisations and there are opportunities to work on research projects and as volunteers. So far, I have met with the Nomad Trust, the Volunteer Centre and Acts Trust. All of the organisations have expressed an interest in working more closely with us and informing their colleagues and the people they offer their services to about the SSC.

I have started to put links to these organisations on our website and will post updates about working with these organisations as they arise.


Upcoming course and public seminars

We’ve updated the SSC calendar to include a new series of public seminars that we will be running each month from September. We’ve also added the dates for this year’s Social Science Imagination course, running from October.

More detail will be posted soon about the Social Science Imagination course, but if you are interested in studying with the SSC, it’s the course you should consider enrolling on. Please do contact us if you’d like to discuss enrolment.

You’ll see from the calendar that we have public seminars lined up from September to January and we hope to add more soon. Here are the titles of the talks, we hope to see you there!

17th September: Reading the Pussy Riot Act

22nd October: Moving the Goalposts: some realities of democratic football governance

12th November: The contradictions of copyright: some essential issues for the peoples of the global South

7th December: What Are You Reading For? Modes of Critique, Modes of Production, and the Pedagogies of Networked Labour

15th January: Hacks and spooks: Close encounters of a strange kind

‘Something new in freedom’ – SSC in the Times Higher Education

Alastair Bonnett has written an interesting article about the SSC and other alternative higher education projects in the UK for the Times Higher Education (23 May 2013), following his talk on ‘Radical pasts, contested futures’. It makes great points for discussion and debate. The link may not be accessible to everyone, though – if you have a copy, please let us know.

Mervyn Wilson: Co-operation or Competition – which way forward for education?

Below are details of Mervyn Wilson’s talk at the SSC AGM on May 11th. All welcome.

Many describe the the education system as being in crisis, with legislative reforms impacting from Early Years to Higher Education. Central to these reforms is a notion that greater competition is needed to drive up standards. Can marketisation and privatisation of the system improve access to and standards in education provision? Will these strategies reduce or exasperate the massive inequalities in the system today? Is there an alternative? Are strategies based on co-operation and collaboration more likely to succeed in addressing these issues?

Mervyn Wilson is Chief Executive and Principal of the Co-operative College. The College has led work to develop alternative co-operative models in the face of educational reforms. Today there are approaching 500 schools using co-operative models, with many more consulting. The national network, the Schools Co-operative Society provides a distinct alternative to the rapid growth of the academy chains. Can these models be extended into Further and Higher Education, and is there now a real opportunity to build a distinct co-operative vision for education provision?

Mervyn has worked in the co-operative sector for over thirty years. He specialised in member education, co-operative identity and governance and has led work to develop a distinct co-operative element in the state education sector. Today there are nearly 500 co-operative trust schools and converter academies and a national network, the Schools Co-operative Society. He is a member of the Board of the Co-operative Institute for Peace and Social Cohesion, a Trustee of the Co-operative Heritage Trust, Chair of the Royal Docks Co-operative Learning Partnership and a Fellow of the RSA.